Do you find it painful to keep to a schedule?
I do. At least, as a general rule.
I feel like I have so many plans or schemes I have set up and abandoned.
Whenever I try to set things up, there is a feeling of rebellion, an urge to paint outside the lines, and follow my spontaneous interests and desires instead of adhering to the schedule I had set up.
But lately, something seems to have started to shift. I’m finding more satisfaction in making a plan and sticking to it.
I realised today that an important mindset shifts seems to have happened for me.
Traditionally, I have loaded my schedule with things that I am supposed to do. All the shoulds, obligations, and requirements.
I don’t know if it is a side effect of being trapped at home with quarantine, the result of emerging from the cocoon of cancer, or just some simple growing up, but I’ve stopped approaching my schedule that way.
Rather than setting it up as a list of things I have to do, I’ve started seeing it as a way to fit in the things that I want to do.
When I approach it from the perspective of making room for the things that I want to prioritise or that feel important, planning out my time feels, dare I say, almost pleasurable?
Because it means I can see how each of the things that are important to me can fit in my life.
And somehow, I find it much easier to be realistic about how long things actually take (answer: longer than you think) when I am approaching it from a pleasure-based perspective rather than a never-ending laundry list.
And I’ve been surprised – those ‘shoulds’ haven’t fallen through the cracks, because they feel important, so I make room to tackle them.
But instead of dominating my schedule, they fit in alongside the other things that are important – time playing with Rosie, time making creative work, or time to just sit and do something fun, even if it’s just for fifteen minutes.
It seems like the key is taking a dynamic approach, doing a gut check on a daily basis about whether what feels important has changed, and leaving enough space to adapt when the unexpected arises.
It feels like it works best f I start with a list, in order, of the things that feel really important to accomplish in that day. The key is to approach this from the perspective of the big picture of how I want my life to look, rather than working form an existing to do list – although it’s helpful to give a list of lingering to do’s a quick scan to see if anything really urgent has been left off.
Once I know what is important, it’s just like doing a puzzle around the fixed pieces, and working out how they can fit.
I suspect I will drift back into old habits eventually, so there are are some useful questions to have ready to ask myself:
Is your schedule a tool to discipline yourself?
Is time planning a way to make sure there is room for the things that you want in your life?
(FWIW: It’s worth noting that this felt like an absolute impossibility when I when I was in my absolute most stressed time trying to hit tight deadlines for my radio project without any childcare. You have to have some measure of control over your own time for this to work, but I think the mindset shift would be helpful even during the times when I have less say over my own time.)